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Health Tips: Sprouting off ... and on

 In the “Harry Potter” books, Professor Pomona Sprout is Harry’s instructor in an herbology class where he learns how to care for magic herbs and fungi. And Pomona blossoms in “Deathly Hallows,” as she rises to the challenge of defending Hogwarts against an attack by the Death Eaters. 

 Clearly, sprouts can do a lot. When they’re the fresh, young greens from beans, peas, vegetables, nuts, grains and seeds, they dish up a robust mix of nutrients, including vitamins A, B, C and K, folic acid, the beneficial phytochemical sulforaphane, and minerals such as phosphorus and magnesium. They’re great added to salads, stir-fries, cold fish dishes and smoothies. 

 But there’s been a lot of news about them delivering foodborne illnesses. From 1996 to July 2016, there were 46 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness in the U.S. linked to sprouts -- causing 2,474 illnesses, 187 hospitalizations and three deaths. 

 So is it safer to grow them at home than to buy them at a grocery store or farmers market? According to the Cleveland Clinic, most outbreaks of sprout-related foodborne illness are associated with contaminated seeds, so home-grown sprouts aren’t safer. The surest way to dodge problems, the Clinic says, is to cook them by stir-frying, steaming or boiling, although they do lose their texture and some nutrients that way. Other smart moves:

 -- Store them in your fridge at or below 40 degrees. 

 -- Wash your hands before and after handling.

 -- Rinse ‘em well before using them. 

-- Never eat slimy, smelly or musty sprouts; throw them out. 

What to do if you see the signs of dementia in a loved one

 Three of the toughest tackles in NFL history are Lawrence Taylor’s leg-breaking hit on Joe Theismann; Eric Smith and Anquan Boldin’s helmet clashing, face-bone-breaking clash; and Sheldon Brown’s clean but devastating takedown of Reggie Bush. 

 But if you think those are tough tackles, just try tackling the issue of dementia when it affects someone near and dear. That said, don’t put it off. But make it a gentle encounter -- for both of you. Here are the experts’ recommendations, step by step.

 1. Before you decide to have the conversation, talk to your loved one’s doctor. Explain your concerns and arrange a check-up -- perhaps for some other condition -- so the physician can make a preliminary evaluation. Also, reach out to dementia caregiver groups for advice on broaching the subject. Check out and search for support groups. 

 2. When bringing up the subject to your loved one, talk about memory problems, not Alzheimer’s (you don’t have that diagnosis yet). And ask, don’t tell: Say, “have you noticed that you are having some recall problems?” 

 3. Be patient and let the person participate in discussions and decision-making as much as they want and can. 

 4. Mention that memory problems can result from medications, vitamin B12 deficiency and thyroid issues -- all of which are reversible. That’s why a medical evaluation is important.

 5. Allow for some conflict and confusion. The first conversation won’t be your last and you may have to repeat yourself, but together you can find your best path to optimal care.

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